Founder of Key School dies

Mary Ann Key, the founder of the Key School of Fort Worth, died April 19 from complications of pulmonary arterial hypertension. She was 83.

At her request, the private remembrance service will be limited to immediate family, said an obituary posted on the Thompson & Son Funeral Home website.

“Mrs. Key was an advocate and pioneer for educating students with dyslexia,” the school said in a posting on its Facebook page.

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“Mrs. Key will be deeply missed, but her legacy lives on in all of the students that attended Key School and the Key Summer Program since 1966. We are grateful for Mrs. Key’s passion, leadership, and belief that all students are capable of learning,” the school said in the post.

Mrs. Key was a long-time resident of Fort Worth and was among the first in the city to teach dyslexic students.

She received a bachelor’s degree from the University of Oklahoma, a master’s from Texas Christian University, and certifications from Scottish Rite Hospital Language Training Unit as an Academic Language Therapist, her obituary said.

The Key School was one of the pioneer schools in the state for children with learning differences, the school said on its website.

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The school’s beginnings with Dr. John Richardson and Scottish Rite Children’s Hospital established a reputation of excellence and innovation in the community while connecting with many local schools. As a result, many students with learning differences have been referred to the Key Summer Program, the website said.

The school’s history timeline said the Texas Scottish Rite Hospital’s Pediatric Neurology Division initiated a cutting-edge language therapy program designed to teach dyslexic students how to read, utilizing the Orton-Gillingham approach to reading and spelling, focused on one-to-one student/teacher interaction.

Among the program’s first graduates was Mary Ann Key, who was encouraged to attend by Dr. John Richardson, M.D.

Mrs. Key and a fellow teacher, Mildred Gardner opened Key School’s doors in 1966.

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In 1983, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools evaluated the standards and programs of Key School and awarded accreditation which continues today.

In the early days, the school was held in many temporary locations, including churches and even Mrs. Key’s own house, but in 1996 Key School moved into its current location at

3947 E. Loop 820 S. in Fort Worth.

Mrs. Key was preceded in death by her parents, Leston and Lucy Norfleet, and brother, Tom Norfleet. Survivors include her daughters and sons-in law: Anne Key and Ben Kuehn of Albuquerque, New Mexico; Lori Key and Ian Flude of Busan, South Korea; Jamie and Andre Ileks of Austin, Texas; grandchildren: Ariana and Carson Ileks; sister-in-law: Lynnea Key of San Francisco.

Instead of flowers, the family would appreciate gifts in her memory to the Pulmonary Hypertension Association. This charitable organization’s mission is to find ways to prevent and cure pulmonary hypertension and to provide hope for the pulmonary hypertension community through support, education, advocacy and awareness.

Pulmonary Hypertension Association

801 Roeder Road, Ste. 1000

Silver Spring, MD 20910

Online donations:

Donate – Pulmonary Hypertension AssociationThe Pulmonary Hypertension Association is the first and largest organization in the world dedicated to providing comprehensive PH patient and caregiver support, medical education, care services that improve patients’ quality of life and research to give hope to people battling the

­In 2005, a new charitable and educational 501C(3) organization, The New Key School, was formed to acquire and transition Key School into a non-profit status. The school – now The Key Center for Learning Differences – began offering tuition assistance to low-income students.

– FWBP Staff